April 21, 2024

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TikTok: Threat to Canadians' Security?

TikTok: Threat to Canadians' Security?

Former Canadian ambassador to China, Guy Saint-Jacques, believes that TikTok poses a security threat to Canadians and that the government should follow suit with the US Congress looking at its parent company's ties to the Chinese government.

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In the US, the House of Representatives last week passed a bill aimed at forcing Byte Dance, the parent company of China-based TikTok, to sell its social network.

In an interview with LCN, Mr. Saint-Jacques notes that Canada should be concerned about data collected by social networks in Canada and data targeting two issues related to the site.

“On the one hand there are restricted subjects, such as Tibet and Hong Kong, which are difficult for China and are being used for propaganda purposes,” he said.

“On the other hand, this is an application that allows China to accumulate a lot of information on the users of this social media,” he continues.

Former US Vice President Mike Pence described the mobile app as “Chinese spyware”, a description echoed by Mr. Saint-Jacques follows.

“The software allows you to see your contact list, what sites you visit, what your preferences are,” explains the former Canadian ambassador. It provides access to a lot of information.

“China has passed a law forcing companies to share any information necessary to obtain it for national security purposes, meaning TikTok has no way to resist information requests.”

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What China might do with this information is Mr. Worries Saint-Jacques.

“We know that China has a long-term plan to impose its way of thinking,” he says. All of this represents a wealth of information that is extremely useful to the Chinese regime.

“Information gathering is about knowing users,” he continues. Whenever someone holds an important position, be it in politics or the business world, we have compromising information from listening to their phone conversations or seeing them on Tiktok. […] It's chocolate for blackmailing the intelligence agencies to force you to support China's stated positions or to silence you.

China has already started to carry out influence campaigns on the app.

“China has a very important agenda to use all possible means to spread misinformation and undermine democracy in Western countries, and for this reason, I think the government should pay more attention to an app like TikTok,” says the former diplomat.

“It is clear that China wants to use this for election campaigns,” he added. He did this by spreading all sorts of false information about the party's candidates who were elected in Taiwan in January. It was used here to denigrate Conservative Party candidates who had expressed a negative stance towards China during the last two election campaigns.

Watch the full explanation in the video above